Modem Media

We've all heard of e-business - but what do you get when you combine that with service that always puts the consumer in the driver's seat? Modem Media Canada calls it 'Me-businessSM' and it is what drives the company at every...

We’ve all heard of e-business – but what do you get when you combine that with service that always puts the consumer in the driver’s seat? Modem Media Canada calls it ‘Me-businessSM’ and it is what drives the company at every level of decision-making and creativity. Me-business is a beacon that brings Modem Media back again and again to its customer-first, relationship management obsession, driving virtually everything it does.

The company, which co-managing director Connie O’Brien describes as a ‘professional services firm’, is focused entirely on interactive media, choosing to be an expert player in the digital space and leaving traditional media for other firms. While Modem Media only recently articulated its ‘Me-business’ philosophy, it has, according to O’Brien, ‘always been about putting the customer first and putting the power of the experience back into the consumer’s hands. We’ve always said, if it’s about the brand, then it has to be about the consumer, because we have to make sure that the interaction and the brand are meeting a specific need. If you actively listen and build for the consumer, they will be happier and want to return.’

Modem Media was founded in 1987 in Connecticut, now the home of its global headquarters. ‘It was the world’s first digital media company and what we were doing then, still fits today. We take big brands and work with Fortune 500 companies, to develop branded and interactive experiences for their users. We’ve always applied strategic insight to build these kind of branded utilities.’

Some of the clients Modem Media Canada has since taken and established on the web are Wendy’s, General Motors, LCBO, Kraft Canada, Manulife Direct, Diners Club, 3M and Intel.

Modem Media developed the innovative curve.com web site which is sponsored by Vauxhall, the General Motors brand in the United Kingdom. Targeting the teenage market, the site features interactive content modules in part designed to develop closer relationships with younger potential consumers. ‘This is a really innovative site and we’re very proud of it,’ says O’Brien. ‘We’re keeping one step ahead of the competition, getting teens to interact with the GM brand, which may very well predispose them to buy GM products later.’

Meeting the competition head on was also part of Modem Media’s work for Delta Air Lines over the last five years. Currently on Delta’s fifth generation of the web site, Modem Media was brought on to meet the constantly changing needs of today’s consumer. The corporate site was offering flight schedules, mileage queries, full ticket reservation and sales transaction capabilities. Modem Media was engaged to keep up with changing customer requirements and to keep Delta competitive, an urgent requirement in the digital arena with the advent of companies such as Expedia, Priceline and Travelocity that are able to aggregate all of the services and meet the consumers needs based on whatever time of day they want to fly. Delta also wanted to use the site for ticketing and disposing of perishable inventory.

‘Our web site had to be best in class – stellar and competitive,’ says O’Brien. ‘We were able to attract people to the web and able to get rid of perishable inventory, making last-minute sales only online. We also created a place for dialogue with high-value customers, letting them know if there were delays or changes. The web site has travel information, including visitor information about a destination city.’

With a home page designed to provide immediate answers to flight schedules, mileage balances and special deals, the site is also designed for travelers using wireless devices to retrieve information quickly.

‘The result has been astonishing,’ says O’Brien. ‘In September, Delta Air Lines’ web site surpassed the $1 billion mark in total sales as well as logging in their three millionth customer on the site. Many thousands of people are checking flights online and there has been increased registration to be contacted by e-mail. People are managing their Skymile accounts actively and about 20 per cent registered for their account online. Delta has exceeded expectation on peak-day bookings, and is also selling off perishable inventory and making advance sales from the web site. The results are impressive.’ And equally impressive is the site’s recent #1 Customer Confidence rating from Gomez, an Internet quality measurement firm.

By establishing itself as a ‘first mover’ in the digital arena, John Hancock Insurance also beat the competition and got a facelift of sorts. The New England firm, perceived as a conservative insurance company, went online to broaden its positioning and to boost awareness of its other products, such as its investment services. Modem Media’s goal was to reposition the company as a trusted financial advisor and to establish the Internet as a new sales channel. How did Modem Media do it? By setting up the Portrait Planning Web site. This customized financial planning tool helps people set goals, assess needs and reallocate assets. Visitors who register can save their ‘Portrait,’ providing qualified leads for marketing communications and John Hancock’s agent/brokers. Modem Media also created the Silhouettes campaign, which deconstructed this needs analysis experience and distributed it across the Web. The tool, essentially a calculator in a banner in Rich media, allows people to learn quickly how much to put aside to reach a specific financial goal. They then can visit Portrait Planning to learn more. ‘It significantly exceeded expectations in terms of visitors and interactions,’ remarks O’Brien of this award-winning work.

And of course, getting those results for the client – by meeting the need of the consumer – is what Modem Media is all about. And it’s all done at web speed.

‘Fusing creative with technology and being able to reach

anybody anywhere anytime is exciting and challenging,’ says O’Brien. ‘It’s the most immediate medium we have. You can read results in real time. We’re always talking about ROI – return on investment. Measurement is critical – the days of building a web site simply to have a web site, are over.

‘Modem Media is really focusing on end-to-end solutions, building and marketing of e-businesses,’ she continues. ‘Besides our ‘Me-business’ philosophy, what differentiates us are the people we bring to the table. People often ask us who our headhunter is, because we have the best people from diverse disciplines, and that makes all the difference.’

O’Brien says that Modem Media’s goal is not to have ’100 or a 1000 clients,’ but to do the very best work possible by getting to know the client’s business inside and out – and from there, moving forward in ‘Me-business’ fashion to meet the needs of the customer.

‘Our offering and approach isn’t going to be for everybody because we’re diligent about saying, ‘Wait a minute. We know you have aggressive sales goals to meet, but let’s take a step back and see what consumer needs you have to satisfy first.’ ‘

Also in this sponsored supplement:

- Overview p.E1

- Armantus p.E2

- BAM Solutions p.E3

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- MarchFIRST p.E8

- Digital@JWT p.E9

- Rebellium.com p.E10

- Devlin Applied Design p.E12